Some things seems trivial nowadays, but in the past they were unthinkable, … for example ice.
With the advent of refrigerators and other similar devices today it has become possible to have ice all year-round. Now … imagine 100 years ago …. how could one get ice? Only in winter and in the highest regions of Madeira, when it snowed or hailed.
Madeira ancestors solved the problem by building reservoirs in which they could store and preserve the ice and snow that winter brought to them those days. It was then used by hospitals and hotels, … thus resulting in the famous Wells of Snow (Poços da Neve).
These wells were based on deep excavations, walled and covered with stone chips to the surface being shaped like an igloo. They were built in the mountains of São Roque and the area of Pico do Arieiro.
According to history, the snow and ice were stored in these pits of snow, and then carried on the back in the leather bags … all the way to their final destination. It was no doubt a tremendous achievement.
Only one of these reservoirs have reached our days and is in a good condition, situated near the Pico do Arieiro at the Ecological Park of Funchal …. at 1,600 meters of altitude.
The well is not being used anymore as a deposit for snow, but it still reminds us of the difficulties and the expertise of the Madeiran ancestors had in those days.